In 2014, Ottawa-native Michelle Treacy made headlines at just 17 when Lady Gaga pulled her up on stage at her concert in Montreal to sing alongside her. Since then, she’s signed with Sony, released her first single, “Armaggedon”, and worked her way up the charts on Spotify Canada, as fans flocked to her angsty indie-pop sound.
Now, she’s premiering her first-ever lyric video for her song, “Armageddon”, right here on FLARE.com! Peep the video premiere now, and then check out our candid convo with the Canadian singer below.
Let’s go way back to the beginning. Two years ago, you’re 17, and Lady Gaga pulls you up on stage. What was your strategy, getting to that point?
You know, I didn’t really have a strategy, but I just thought, if she sees me wearing the same hat every time [at concerts in all these different cities], and [hears me] saying the same thing, one day it will probably click. So I would always say [at the concert], “One day, will you make my dream come true and let me sing on stage with you?” And maybe she got sick of it [laughs], and that’s why she was like, “Okay, I’ll bring you up!” But she always remembered me. It was like I became magnetic to her, because she would be in this huge crowd, and for some reason, she’d come straight to me.
How many Lady Gaga shows have you seen, IRL?
13. I feel like I’ll go to more, too.
Side note: can you describe the hat for me?
The hat! I actually was gifted the hat by my friend Amy Scarlett Donovan, who makes a lot of my outfits. She had bought this really sparkly cheetah print hat at Value Village [laughs], and it was like the most godawful thing. You had to wear it backwards, because it was one of those caps with a really wide front. It was just weird. I still have it, but I retired it. It’s done, it’s not coming back out. For a gift from Value Village that cost a dollar, it took me far.
So Amy makes a lot of your outfits?
Yeah. We’ve been friends for six or seven years now. We actually met [because] she was in fashion school and doing her first show, and she cast me as a model to wear her clothes. And we became really good friends from there. She began making outfits for my shows, and it just clicked. It felt like we need to be in this together. ‘Cause I’m a person who doesn’t wanna wear things that everyone else is wearing; it doesn’t feel right to me as an artist. It also feels like Amy and I evolve at the same time every year; we have this period where we’re like, oh my god, who are we now? Let’s change again, and again and again. And she sometimes calls her collections the Michelle Treacy collections, because after they’re done showing, she gives it all to me, pretty much. So I’m pretty lucky. She’s really inspiring to me. We come up with things, we experiment. I’m very into bell bottoms right now. She’s from Ottawa; it’s really cool to have hometown people around.
What are some go-to styles for you, as of right now?
I like custom pieces; I like seeing my ideas come to life. I’m very big into thin scarves right now, tying them in a bow behind me. And loose waves in my hair.
What about in terms of beauty?
The [Kylie Jenner] lip kit in Mary Jo K is like my favourite red lip in the world. I also have this one mascara I’m obsessed with, it’s by Mary Kay. It’s insane! I never have to wear false lashes, ever. Thank God, because I was scared about that. I was like, how am I gonna put those on on the road? I don’t know how to do it. I’m really horrible at makeup, so I decided glitter is always good: I throw glitter on and I’m all ready to go.
So, obviously the story [of you being on stage with Lady Gaga] got a lot of media attention; how did that impact your music, and your reach in the industry?
I ended up releasing “Gold Boy” after that. And then a couple months later, I released “We Want It All”, which was another song I put out independently. And [that] actually got the attention of Sony. So I went in for an audition with Sony, and I remember, we were in, like, a closet room, really small. There was the president, the vice-president, and me and my guitar player, Lucas. We performed three songs. I remember thinking the president was actually the vice-president. But it was really amazing, and as soon as I stopped singing, he was like, “You know, I think you could be unstoppable.” That was another affirmation moment for me. I was like, holy crap, the president just said I’m going to be unstoppable. So many people tell you, ugh, you’re probably not gonna make it, you’re not gonna do well. And then to hear someone at that level tell you that you’re gonna be unstoppable. And then say, “If we wanna make a deal, we’ll call in 24 hours,” and then they call as soon as you get in the car? It was really nice for once, for someone to not have to think, “Should we give her a chance?” It was a “For sure, there’s something.” So that was a big moment in my life.
You’ve said in interviews that you don’t believe in back-up plans.
Nope. [Laughs] My dad is always like, “You know I really support you, and I believe in this, but do you have any [other] ideas?” And I’m like, if one person doesn’t believe in it, it’s not gonna happen for me. So I tell everyone off: I say, you can’t think like that, you can’t think, “She needs a backup plan.” Because I really don’t believe in them. I feel like, if you’re thinking about two things, then the second thing’s gonna happen. I feel like I was born into it, really, because I’ve been singing since I popped out. And I’m just like, damn, if I had become a doctor or something, it would be so easy; but I chose the hard [path]. People don’t realize how hard it is. This industry is really, really difficult. I like it though; I like a challenge.
Since you signed with Sony, you’ve released your single, “Armageddon.” How did the song come together?
I got a call from one of my writing friends, Todd Clark. He actually wrote the Shawn Hook song, “Sound of Your Heart,” which I love. I went over to his studio, and he said, “I have this cool little hook, ‘Armageddon.’” And at first, I was like, Imma get him? And he said, “no, ‘Armageddon.'” I felt like a total dummy [laughs]. Once he explained it, I was like, oh my god, this is exactly what I went through. My family went through our own personal Armageddon [when] my mom and dad split up. I watched my mother go from, like, the end of her world, to blossoming into the most beautiful rose, and becoming herself. So that’s really what Armageddon is to me. You know, you can lie to someone so many times; you can tell them you’re going to change [and never do it], but one day it’ll blow up and they’ll be like, I’m done, I’m not listening to you again, I’m walking away. I need to be happy with myself.
You talk a lot about that, about not caring about what people think, not caring about the negativity.
When I was in high school—I look back at myself now and think, I so wish I hadn’t cared what anybody said, ‘cause it took so much out of me. I was so bullied. And I got bullied even more because I would be like, “I might sit alone at the lunch table now, but one day I’m gonna sing on stage with Lady Gaga.” And then I did it. But for six years, people were… [sticks out her tongue].
What’s your advice, for people who are going through it right now?
I would say, don’t go to parties when you’re in high school, there’s no point. My family was very strict about that; I was not allowed to hang out with boys, I was not allowed to go to parties, I was not allowed to wear black nail polish. Which I’m currently still obsessed with, although I’m not wearing it right now. People in high school, in elementary school, in school in general, do not matter. You have to focus on yourself and just be you. I knew who I was, I knew what I wanted to do, and people did not like that at all. They would chase me with scissors to cut my hair, they would tell me to learn how to sing, and it’s so hard in the moment, because you’re like, oh my goodness, this is awful, and you feel alone. But you just have to remember that, after high school, it’s wonderful, because nobody bugs you, you can delete everyone off social media, you can change your phone number, you can move to a new city. And it’s not running away; it’s not giving a shit anymore, and just becoming yourself.
Did anything crazy happen while filming for the lyric video of Armageddon?
I got in there and I had two outfits, one lace bodysuit, and one t-shirt and really short-shorts, like dancer shorts. And they’re all tea-stained and torn and burnt. And all you see is this big, gaping camel-toe. I didn’t know it would be so bad, but it was pretty big, and I didn’t know what to do. And then [my Sony publicist] Sam comes in with Band-Aids, like the really big ones, and she was like, maybe these will work. I guess everybody thought I would stick [the Band-Aid] in my underwear, but, for some reason, I decided to stick it right onto the skin. And for the video, I was full of ash, there was ash everywhere, and some got stuck to the band-aid. It was so gruesome—but it worked well, because there was no more camel-toe!
So what’s next for you?
I’m planning on a real music video [for “Armageddon”]. I’m working with a director from LA who did a lot of Lady Gaga’s stuff, which is crazy. I went to LA to write, and I got to meet her, and it just clicked. The idea for the video is looking pretty Mother Nature-ish, so I’m into it. An album will come, and some singles. I just wanna make sure it’s the best work I can put out. I don’t want to put out anything that’s half-assed, anything I don’t believe in. I don’t want to be one of those manufactured artists. I just wanna tell the truth.